Saturday, August 21, 2010

The cost of everything and the value of nothing....

I had a recent discourse with someone who thought €50 too much to charge for their painting. While not exactly a masterpiece it was quite competent, and of saleable quality. It left me quite shocked. How can someone who claims to be an 'Artist' and feels their work is good enough to sell not value it at least at minimum wage levels?
It is bad enough that people who don't either appreciate or understand the value of art cannot see it does have a monetary value. Even as an hourly labour. That someone who professes to 'love' art and who calls themselves to quote, " a good" artist cannot see that art deserves paying for in my view is scandalous.

Even without the cultural value of art, painting, sculpting etc. deserve at least a skilled labourers hourly rate for the work that goes into producing it. Whatever the 'value' of a finished piece of art as an object or piece of furniture to someone decorating a room, I cannot comprehend someone who says they love their art not valuing the labour that goes into it as of less value than a menial piece-work job.

With artists like this, it is a lost cause trying to educate a public that has very little knowledge of the value of art. A painter decorator is seen as a skilled labourer, and is paid a good hourly rate to paint a wall magnolia. Why should an artist be paid less for the hours spent painting a canvas with a multitude of hues and tones, more importantly how can someone who knows the work that is put into it not actually see the elementary comparison.

Some people love to paint paintings as a past-time, they enjoy it. I can accept it is a lovely hobby for them. Some people enjoy D.I.Y. and decorating, and do carpentry, decorating etc. as a hobby. This does not mean that the value of a skilled labourer or tradesman is any less. Art as a hobby as opposed to a career should not mean the value of an artists labour is non-existent either.

We have come a long way from the times when artists were seen as skilled tradesmen, more valued as a career than many other trades. Now we are expected to starve/suffer for our art and accept our labour is not worth as much as serving behind a shop counter. Forget the old style apprenticeships, we now have third level colleges educating/training our artists for years, or other artists spending years practising and learning their craft. The value of this?
Under €50?
If I go to the doctor it costs more than this for a 15 minute consult - if it takes longer I'm asked to book two! A repair man will charge €75 minimum to call out to fix something, plus charging full retail for materials.

I accept there are market forces. I accept they will dictate what the 'value' of things are. What I cannot accept is that someone who claims to value art, can actually think it has so little value, even in hours labour.

The reality is if artists cannot hold onto the value of artists and their need for a reasonable return for a days work, how can we educate non artists to the fact?

Answers on a postcard please........

1 comment:

Betsy Grant said...

So glad I found your blog. I LOVE your work! I appreciate your comments re artists and being properly valued. I am a classical experimental composer/pianist. I have a blog for artists/creative types. Please visit me at